I am part of a tennis family with my father having played collegiate tennis, my mother playing USTA league tennis, and my siblings and myself all having received tennis lessons growing up. Tennis is not just a joy to play, but also a joy to watch as the athleticism and skill of the world-class players are truly awe-inspiring when watched live or on TV. I am usually not in awe of sportspeople or looking up to them as role models, but over the last 10+ years of watching professional tennis, my admiration and respect for Roger Federer have grown immensely. Besides his genius tennis skills, I admire the work ethic, sportsmanship, family values, and life values that Roger exhibits and role models for others.
Watching Roger play
On the tennis court, Roger is pure joy to watch. He makes tennis look effortless and almost ballet-like, even though we know very well how complex and strenuous every single movement and shot are for every other human being on the planet. For those of you who are knowledgeable about the sport, indulge me as I share my analysis of Roger’s game. To begin with, his serve is compact in motion and technically perfect. He has a knee bend that allows him to leap into the toss and hit it at its highest point with no wasted motion on the backswing, and he falls forward into the court on his follow-through which maximizes the power and punch in the serve with his full body weight behind it. The shot is as reliable as it is powerful, and it always gives Roger an advantage in starting off the point. The second shot that is usually his favorite closing weapon is the forehand. Roger hits his forehand with a mix of top-spin and flat stroke which gives it a high margin of safety while maintaining the punch and power in the shot that is needed to close out a point. The Roger Federer serve followed by the forehand is a deadly 1-2 combination that is feared by every opponent and rightly so.
His refined technique
Although Roger’s backhand does not get quite the same credit as his serve and forehand, it is still a potent weapon and key part of his success. The variety of shots he plays on the backhand side is a key differentiator and his repertoire of slice, top-spin, and flat backhands are leveraged to the max with the right shot at the right time to create a winning advantage. His backhand down the line shots is truly poetry in motion. Roger is also widely considered one of the best ever in his net play including forehand and backhand volleys, which are the shots you take in the air near the net. His technique is rock solid, his reaction time is lightning quick, and his sense of touch and placement of his volleys are truly one of a kind. It is rare in tennis to find a complete player, one who has strengths both in the backcourt and in the net game along with a world-class serve. But then Roger Federer is rare and is deservedly nicknamed “The GOAT” which is an abbreviation for The Greatest of All Time. It is an apt summary of his overall tennis capabilities and achievements.
Impressive work ethic and self-discipline
Besides his tremendous technique, the X-factor in Roger’s game is his work ethic and dedication to continuously improving his game. Many people have the Will to Win, but Roger stands tall even among giants, in his Will to Prepare. My favorite illustration of this will to prepare is an episode a few years ago when Roger was training in Dubai for the upcoming Australian Open championships. Given the need to play in 120-degree heat in Australia, he wanted to train his body and mind appropriately for that. So, he flew three top college players from the US to join him in Dubai and trained with them for ten straight days. The three of them would rotate and take breaks so that each of them was always fresh and recovered while Roger would stay on the other side of the net without a break and play against these opponents who are better rested than himself. This is the type of dedication it takes to go and excel in a Grand Slam Championship even under brutally oppressive conditions. This work ethic and training of the body and the mind has been a key enabler of the lofty achievements that Roger has achieved throughout his career.
Behavior off the court
I also admire Roger because of his on-court and off-the-court behavior and lifestyle. He has consistently demonstrated the highest standards of sportsmanship on the court and received the highest recognition of this from his peers as a record five-time winner of the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year including four consecutive awards from 2005 to 2008. Roger has been vocal about his fierce prioritization of family and his work towards being the best husband and father possible. His wife and children travel with him to every tournament and his parents are also a constant presence for his matches. Despite all the successes he has achieved, I admire the fact that Roger remains grounded in things that really matter, of which family would top the list. He has been married to Mirka Federer for over ten years and they have twin girls aged 10 and twin boys aged 5. Roger is the biggest advocate of his home country and hometown of Basel, Switzerland and always acts with humility and respect towards others and represents his country and family with great honor on the world stage.